OFSC Invests in Groomers for Better Trails This Winter

2021 Permit Revenues Fund $3.8M in Pre-Season Grooming Investments

(Barrie, ON – August 27, 2020) – Following news about 2021 Snowmobile Trail Permits, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) today released the next phase of its pre-season plan to provide the best possible trail riding experience this winter. The latest initiatives are based on the OFSC’s comprehensive provincial fleet management strategy, which focuses on optimizing the effectiveness and efficiency of one of the world’s largest trail groomer fleets. This fleet of 305 units is valued at approximately $36M and located throughout 16 OFSC districts across the province.

“Riders who purchase permits early are critical to our pre-season work,” said OFSC CEO Landon French, “Long before winter starts, the OFSC allocates about 77% of permit revenue to get trail operations underway and trails ready to groom. The biggest portion of this early investment allows us to continuously improve our large grooming fleet.”

2020 Groomer Investments: In addition to annual pre-season trail preparation expenses, the OFSC allocated almost $2.9M from permit revenues to purchasing 8 new, purpose-built groomers and 4 new groomer tractors. These investments also allowed the OFSC to refurbish, renew or relocate 58 existing groomer units at an additional cost of about $740k, for a total groomer bill last season of approximately $3.6M.

2021 Groomer Investments: For use during the coming season, the OFSC has purchased 10 new groomer units and drags and is refurbishing an additional 46 existing units at a projected cost of $3.8M all funded from permit revenues.

“Buying new units and refurbishing existing ones is part of the OFSC Fleet Management Plan,” commented French “Moving operational management of groomers to OFSC districts has helped considerably, and district grooming committees play an important role in our provincial strategy.”

More Effective Use of Groomers: The benefits of this province-wide approach include cost savings through careful centralized bulk buying and sale of older units, and better asset utilization through upgraded GPS tracking of all groomers to collect valuable usage data. Other advantages also include standardized groomer maintenance schedules to minimize breakdowns and enhanced online groomer operator training for greater trail consistency.

Coordinating trail grooming on a district basis means that OFSC grooming routes now cross club boundaries and are less restricted by natural barriers. As a result, groomer units now operate with optimized route, fuel, shift and labour efficiency to get the most out of every grooming run. For snowmobilers, it also means more seamless and consistent riding between clubs.

More Groomer Capability: The most direct benefit for permit holders comes from new and refurbished groomer units. Before the OFSC introduced province-wide fleet management, snowmobile clubs bought and sold groomers based on their local trail needs, and only if they had the resources to do so. Among other disparities, this often resulted in have and have not clubs, plus increased risk of aging groomer units breaking down, both of which could impact trail consistency.

Today, the OFSC purchases all groomer units, based on needs identified by each district and according to the province-wide fleet strategy. This means that every new groomer unit now goes where it is needed most. In addition, each new unit also initiates a “cascade” of refurbishments and relocations as the OFSC is now able to move groomers to districts where they can be better utilized.

Standby Groomers: Another significant benefit for riders is that, the OFSC has positioned four standby groomers near high traffic locations for the 2021 season to act as quick response units to replace non-functioning groomers. Additionally, the OFSC provides funding to transport groomer units from no snow areas to high snow areas as weather and traffic necessitates.

These grooming initiatives require significant investment of permit dollars before the snow flies. Consequently, the OFSC relies on early permit sales to fund these and many other pre-season trail costs to get trails ready to groom and ride for the winter.

More OFSC strategy announcements regarding the health and safety of its members, volunteers, landowners and permit buyers will follow shortly.

The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is a volunteer led not for profit association that provides the voice for organized snowmobiling in the Province of Ontario. The snowmobile trails managed by 200 community based, member organizations, generate up to $3.3 billion in economic activity across the province each year.